Tag Archives: women’s rights

Women’s art for women’s rights

As renewed battles over women’s rights are making headlines here at home, the struggles of women in other countries too often go unnoticed.

The neglect and abuse of women is woven into the fabric of far too many societies, as evidenced by a recent exhibition of quilts at the United Nations Visitors Centre in NYC. Think fabric squares depicting burning villages, brutal acts of violence against women and other horrifying scenes — some involving infants and children.

Though “Women are the Fabric” recently closed, I’m pleased to share several snapshots of works I enjoyed during my March NYC visit. All serve as powerful reminders of the way interwoven threads of civilization unravel when women’s rights to dignity, safety, health, education and equal opportunity are trampled or ignored.

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Folks interested in world cultures can attend CultureFest, a family-friendly cultural dinner being presented by The Welcome to America Project. The dinner will raise funds to help refugee families from war-torn countries settle in to their new lives in Phoenix. It’s part of the organization’s World Refugee Day celebration.

Those attending the June 24 event — which is part of the group’s 2012 “Cultural Dinner Series” — will “experience and learn traditions about the cultures from nine representative countries.” Think Burma, Congo, Cuba, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and more.

Click here to learn more about United Nations policies and programs focused on improving the lives of women across the globe, here to explore Quilt for Change and here for information on the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

— Lynn

Note: Fountain Hills Youth Theater in Arizona presents a Y.A.B.O.Y. (Young Actors Benefiting Other Youth) production about dating sexual abuse called “The Silence Between the Whispers” March 15-31, 2013 (auditions for ages 12-19 are scheduled for Feb. 4 & 5).

Coming up: Youth theater meets social justice, Getting to know women playwrights, Cancer meets creativity

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NYC in Scottsdale?

My husband James stumbled on a great pizza joint last Friday night while making a pet store run. Lovebirds can’t do pizza, so Trixy got bird food and we got slices from Joe’s New York Pizza in Scottsdale. Cheese for Lizabeth and Hawaiian for me.

March for gay rights in NYC, 1976 (Photo: Warren K. Leffler)

He walked in the door with dinner just after I’d watched a CNN broadcast of a short speech by New York governor Andrew Cuomo. The occasion for Cuomo’s remarks was the passage of a marriage equality act in the New York legislature.

I already had New York on the brain because I was readying for this week’s trip to NYC for Lizabeth’s college orientation. Lizabeth starts a B.F.A. in acting program this fall.

As Lizabeth weighed possible colleges earlier in the year, I was mindful of the political landscape in the various states where she might go to school — though I never mentioned things like my Cuomo versus Christie musings.

Cuomo spoke last Friday night of New York as a “social justice” state. “I’m always proud to be a New Yorker,” said Cuomo. “But tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Yorker.” Cuomo was among those leading the fight for marriage equality in New York.

In his remarks, Cuomo spoke of New York’s leadership in several fights for equal rights — the movement for women’s rights, the push for worker’s rights after the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and the most recent battle — equal marriage rights for gay and straight couples.

“Social justice,” said Cuomo, “is an evolutionary process.” He recognized others who’d championed this cause for New York citizens, and praised “the advocacy community from across the nation.” I’m sure some in Scottsdale embraced the vote with a “we’re all New Yorkers tonight” mindset.

I’m thrilled to be enjoying NYC with Lizabeth this week, but there are folks in Scottsdale that I’ll be missing while we’re away. Trixy, Pinky, Rugby — plus James and our other two children, also college students. But also Lizabeth’s teachers from the Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre, where she studied theater last summer.

Before we marched for marriage equality, we marched for women's rights and workers' rights

The conservatory presents its 2011 performance at the Scottsdale Community College Performing Arts Center Wed, June 29 and Thurs, June 30. They’re presenting “Strange Bedfellows,” which is set in my daughter Jennifer’s favorite city — San Francisco. They have a thing for civil rights too.

“Strange Bedfellows” is the tale of Senator Cromwell, “a politician who keeps his women under stern rule.” His son, Matthew Cromwell, is a young congressman who “dutifully follows in his father’s political footsteps — except when he marries a beautiful and determined suffragette.”

It examines “the coming of age of a woman’s right to vote” — and features “the escapades that ensue as the suffragette converts the women in the Cromwell family to her way of thinking.” Who doesn’t love a good conversion story?

I’m told that “shades of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and San Francisco’s brothel district come into play as each side tries to out-maneuver and out-smart the other.” Aristophanes, by the way, was a comedic playwright of ancient Greece.

I know the actors, theater professionals and teachers of Scottsdale Conservatory Theatre played a part in helping Lizabeth achieve her dream of studying and making theater in NYC — and I’m grateful.

Thanks to James and Joe’s New York Pizza, we can always enjoy a bit of NYC in Scottsdale. But this week, we’re carrying thoughts of Scottsdale with us in New York.

— Lynn

Note: Check out the “Stay Fancy Free” blog for more nifty black-and-white photos of suffragettes — plus lovely fiber arts fare. Click here to check out the site where I found the photo shot while the Democratic National Convention was in NYC during 1976.

Coming up: Shakespeare NYC-style, A stroll through the theater district, NYC: museum highlights

Woman playwright talks “Respect”

The "Respect" cast album will have you singing and dancing along to 100 years of "top 40" tunes

Fans of the “feel good” musical will love the dressed-up “top 40” tunes of “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” — playing through Feb 12, 2011 at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.

But so will those who enjoy deeper fare — because the 50+ tunes featured in “Respect” are a vehicle for recounting the changing roles of women during the last 100 or so years.

It isn’t every day you come across a playwright with a Ph.D. to her name, or even a playwright you’d refer to as “her.”

“Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” playwright Dorothy Marcic, Ph.D., notes that just 15% or so of playwrights whose work is produced are women.

I marveled even more at this math after learning from Marcic that only 15% of “top 40” hits from the last century were recorded by women. She knows because she studied the issue extensively long before bringing “Respect” to the stage.

Research for this book led to the musical "Respect: A Musical Journey of Women"

Her foray into the musical journey of women — from dependence and passivity to empowerment and strength — took the form of research for a book she titled “Respect: Women and Popular Music.”

You’ve got to respect Marcic for the breadth and depth of her academic and professional life — which isn’t readily apparent until you look past the feather boas and “Jackie O” sunglasses that are a sort of trademark of her show.

Though her first teaching job was at the Arizona State University business school, she ultimately spent many years as a professor at Vanderbilt University.

Marcic has been a Fulbright scholar in Prague, consulted with major corporations on leadership and organizational management, worked with the PBS television series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” published several books (including children’s titles) and more.

We forget sometimes that the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote, was ratified less than 100 years ago — in 1920.

Often we fail to help our daughters appreciate the great progess that’s taken place — and the work undertaken by previous generations to make it happen.

Cheryl Williams, Carly Mayo, Heather Mayes and Andrea Dora (L to R) perform in "Respect: A Musical Journey of Women" in Phoenix (Photo: Sierra Smith)

Marcic describes “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” as “a great conversation starter.” Mothers, fathers or grandparents who take children to see the show will enjoy much more than a fabulous “feel good” musical.

They’ll help younger generations understand the world, and work, that came before them.

Americans take so many privileges, including the opportunity to vote, for granted. I love the fact that there’s a show combining good clean fun with a dash of history — even activism.

So what of the musical journey of men? Marcic sees a similar arc, noting that songs by men recorded before the ’60s focused on control, power, planning and such.

During the 1960s, songs performed by men began to reveal a greater vulnerability, more emotional accessibility.

By the end of the 20th century, American pop music often spoke not only of healing relationships but also of healing the world.

Proceeds from the sale of "Respect" tickets, totes and such benefit "The Respect Project" as it works to empower women and children

All this talk of pop music got me thinking about other genres — from country music to rap — and images of women in contemporary pop tunes.

If you’re parenting a tween girl, you’ve no doubt noticed the musical menace of songs that emphasize beauty over brains, fleeting pleasure over sustained effort, and snagging the perfect boyfriend over cultivating inner strength.

“Music bifurcated early in the 21st century,” muses Marcic. While several songs feature strong, independent women — others offer suggestive, even “slutty” lyrics.

But even this, I suspect, may be another step forward.

For the goal of feminism — a key theme in my own doctoral studies in religion and philosophy during the ’80s — was never to tell women they had to choose one particular approach.

Rather, it was to expand women’s options. To foster limitless opportunities. Which options a woman chooses to pursue are for her alone to decide.

I like to think that shows like “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” help us all see those choices more clearly, and to chart the path of our own lives instead of settling for lives mapped by others.

— Lynn

Note: “Respect: A Musical Journey of Women” is produced by Philip Roger Roy and Dana Matthow in association with Act 2 PlayhouseClick here to find additional resources on the topic of women’s empowerment — including a comprehensive “Respect” study guide and the non-profit “Respect Project Inc.,” which uses theater and other arts to “help women transform their lives through smart thinking, smart choices, smart results.”

Coming up: More Marcic musings — on contemporary theater and playwriting